The Dream Factory, Inc. is a volunteer-based, nonprofit organization that grants the dreams of critically and chronically ill children, ages three through eighteen. When South Central Bell employee Charles Henault founded The Dream Factory in Hopkinsville, Kentucky in 1980, his goal was to create a volunteer organization dedicated to granting the dreams of children with serious illnesses.
Today, The Dream Factory (www.dreamfactoryinc.com) operates more than 30 chapters across the United States and is the second largest wish-granting organization in existence. The Dream Factory grants an average of 350 dreams each year, including trips to Walt Disney World, shopping sprees and meeting with celebrities and athletes. Currently, The Dream Factory enjoys the assistance of 5,000 dedicated volunteers who have helped fulfill over 23,000 dreams since 1980.
Seriously ill children spend far too much time in doctor’s offices, hospitals and treatment centers. They are often denied simple childhood pleasures such as attending school, participating in sports and enjoying time with friends and family members. In granting a child’s dream, the organization is able to temporarily alleviate the child’s pain, allowing him or her to feel like a “normally healthy” child and enhancing his or her quality of life (no matter what the duration of that life may be). Doctors agree that experiencing a dream can extend the life of a seriously ill child as well as bring lasting joy and precious memories to the child’s family.
Granting dreams is the ongoing mission of The Dream Factory, Inc. However, the organization’s relationship with a child and his or her family does not come to a close aftera dream is fulfilled. The various chapters keep in touch with their past dream recipients and his or her families through newsletters, holiday parties, summer picnics and other special events and program services. The national website, which is maintained by volunteers, also aids in The Dream Factory’s ability to share information and keep in touch.
The Dream Factory is distinguishable from other wish-granting organizations in three main ways. First, The Dream Factory grants the dreams of both critically and chronically ill children; they do not limit their program services to terminally ill children. In this manner, they maximize the number of children who can experience their dreams. Second, The Dream Factory is an all-volunteer organization at the chapter level. Their only employees exist at National Headquarters (2 part-time and 2 full-time staff members), and they are able to maintain low overhead costs. The Dream Factory’s goal is to use 90 cents of every dollar raised on direct program services. Finally, their volunteers raise funds in their own communities and then use those funds to grant the dreams of local children. This grassroots approach to fundraising translates in 92% of all funds raised remaining in their community of origin.